Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ten Years Later, Church Still Talking!

Look, before you get started reading, this is my top pet peeve, so if you don’t want to read another rant about the Catholic Church today, just skip it or search for a more pleasant blog to read. Every now and then something happens to bring my anger back to the surface and it’s going to spill out right here. I read the other day that the leaders of the Catholic Church were going to meet for a four day symposium, to discuss the prevention of child abuse. Ordinarily I might consider this a good thing, but it comes 10 years after the horrendous scandal broke out. Ten years is a long time. And they describe this as an “unprecedented assembly.” They are going to talk about the “best ways to help victims, protect children and educate priests.” The New York Times sums up my feelings in a nice way:

“As cases of abuse prominently emerged in North America and several European countries over the past decade, the church was often slow and clumsy in its reactions, angering the faithful and inviting accusations of both negligence and cover-up.”

Why all the “talk” just now? Well it seems that the Vatican has a reason to act like it’s trying to do something. I read that they are being brought up on charges with an International Criminal Court amongst others. So maybe self preservation or a line of defense against the indefensible is being launched? Who knows? What I do know is all this talking, ten years after the fact, is not about the children, it’s really about repairing the Church’s reputation. That will never fly with me unless they round up everyone guilty and punish them. That includes not only the priests who committed the crimes, but everyone who covered them up! 

Why am I skeptical and critical? Why don’t I trust the Church? They haven’t done anything, that’s why. What little they did do was to benefit themselves and damage control. And here is another thing that riled me. This morning I heard something on the radio that pissed me off. Remember former New York Cardinal Edward Egan, who was in the middle of the church scandal ten years ago in Bridgeport, CT when he was bishop there? Well he recently gave an interview and in it he says that while he was bishop there was never a case of child abuse by a priest in his diocese and he insists he did nothing wrong. And, he added, there is no legal requirement to report abuse cases in Connecticut AND he regretted making the apology he did back then concerning the priest abuse scandal! 

"Egan is obviously unrepentant, self-absorbed and painfully dismissive of the abject suffering of tens of thousands of deeply wounded men, women and children who have been sexually violated by priests, nuns, bishops, brothers, seminarians and other Catholic officials," said David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "We can't help but believe that many other prelates feel exactly as he does, but are shrewd enough to avoid saying so outside of clerical circles."

Maybe this is why I am still fuming over something that didn’t just happen ten years ago. It’s been happening for decades, maybe hundreds of years, maybe as long as the Church has been around. People didn’t talk about these things in the past and are only recently speaking out about it. One example can be found in the graphic movie the “Magdalene Sisters,” a true story of abuse told by the victims themselves. This is nothing new, it’s just that ten years ago victims began speaking out. Before that, the complaints were “handled” within the Church by transferring the guilty priests to other unsuspecting parishes where they could start their abuse all over again.

“In the interview, Egan said many of his accomplishments were unfairly overshadowed by the priest sex abuse scandal. "I'm not the slightest bit surprised that, of course, the scandal was going to be fun in the news -- not fun, but the easiest thing to write about."

That statement also drew criticism. "Cardinal Egan's statements in this article, including describing the sex abuse scandal as being `incredibly good' or `fun' for the news, confirms the extent to which he was out of touch with the reality of what occurred to the Catholic faithful within his diocese," said local attorneys.”

I don’t believe for one minute that Egan is alone in his way of thinking. I believe this type of denial is pervasive throughout the Catholic Church. The fact that they are waiting ten years to discuss the matter now that they are being charged with criminal complaints in an International Criminal Court speaks volumes to me. In fact, all I recall at the time was a lot of denial and excuses and NEVER any outrage as to what was going on under their noses. That’s because they always knew what was going on and never addressed it in a meaningful way. I hope the matter comes to court and they are found guilty. I hope each and every member of the church will have to actually pay for their crimes. We don’t even know the full extent of the problem, which was happening worldwide, because they got rid of much of the evidence when the scandal broke. 

They can talk until they are blue in the face, but as I told my own pastor at my church ten years ago, I will never be satisfied until something is done and the guilty pay for their sins. Unless I am satisfied, I will not be donating my money to the Church for their legal defense fund, but to the many other worthwhile charities who work to protect children make this world a better place!  (No answer from the pastor.)

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